Posted by: Ernest Barteldes | January 17, 2013

Those Rare Weekday Dinners…

I don’t usually have time to cook a proper dinner on weekdays.  I usually teach in the evening, and when I don’t there is always something going on – a concert to review, a class to attend or something or another, so usually I will have bowl of soup or a sandwich for dinner during the week while I look forward to my more elaborate meal that I prepare on Sundays, as I have written here before.

However, on the rare occasion when the stars align and I do have a weekday evening off, I try to make something that is not too simple but not overly complicated either – I’ll take a look at what I have in my pantry and refrigerator (I do buy a lot of canned products and spices when I happen to find them at a good price) and go from there.

As I have previously written, I own tons of cookbooks, ranging from ethnic cooking (Brazilian, Thai, Polish, Swedish, Japanese and the like) to quick-cooking recipes from Betty Crocker or Mark Bittman, a food columnist from the New York Times who published several tomes on doing things the easy way. When not very inspired, I often peruse those books to find recipes that I haven’t yet used or simply that I have missed – when you have over a thousand pages to look at, some gems do fall through the cracks.

This week I was looking at Betty Crocker’s “300 Best Canned Soup Recipes,” a very simple guide on making quick dishes by using – you guessed it – canned soups like cream of mushroom or French onion soup that are frequently added to dishes like green beans or even pasta.  As I looked through the book, I came across a recipe for ‘creamy vegetable enchiladas,’ which was something I’d had in mind for a while.

Checking my supplies, I saw that I had many of the necessary ingredients: shredded Monterey jack cheese, enchilada sauce and carrots. I just needed to get corn tortillas, cream of onion soup and zucchini (and of course, a bottle of wine to pair with the dish).  Thankfully. I live in a neighborhood where almost everything I need to make a meal – as exotic as it may seem – just by going for a walk.

I made a few changes to the original recipe (my version below). The final result was very satisfying: I served the enchiladas with rice and red kidney beans on the side (not together but separate) and we enjoyed the meal with an inexpensive bottle of pinot grigio that I’d picked up at Trader Joe’s a few days earlier.











Vegetable enchiladas


8 corn tortillas

2 medium carrots, thinly sliced

2 medium zucchini, cubed

1 medium onion, chopped

1 cup shredded Monterey jack cheese, divided

1 tablespoon olive oil


1 can cream of mushroom soup

1 10 oz. can of enchilada sauce (or green salsa)

Salt and black pepper to taste

1 teaspoon chili powder

Hot sauce to taste




Heat ½ tbsp. olive oil and add the onion and carrots. Stir-fry for about two minutes or until softened. Add zucchini and chili powder and continue stirring until vegetables are cooked. Remove from heat, add cream of mushroom soup, ½ cup cheese, a dash of hot sauce and stir until blended. Season with salt and pepper.

In the meantime, heat tortillas wrapped in tinfoil in the oven at 300 degrees for about 10 minutes.

Divide the vegetable mix among tortillas and arrange them, seam down in lightly greased dish. Drizzle enchiladas with remaining olive oil, pour enchilada sauce and sprinkle with remaining cheese.  Bake for 25-30 minutes and serve with rice and beans on the side.

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